Facultative parthogenesis, commonly known as "virgin birth," isn't unheard of in the animal kingdom, but it's especially rare among vertebrates. And while it's been observed in snakes in the past, never before has it been identified in any wildspecies. Until now.
In the latest issue of Biology Letters, a team of researchers led by geneticist Warren Booth presents evidence that North American pit vipers — which last year became the fourth species of captive parthenogenic snake to be described in almost fifteen years — are capable of reproducing without being fertilized by a male. But unlike the pit viper's in last year's study (which was also led by Booth), these snakes are capable of virgin births in the wild.